Postcard: Yeung Uk Tsuen
September 21, 2010 by michaeljjordan
HONG KONG – I arrived here having to wait one week before my short-term rental was ready. So I accepted a colleague’s generous offer to spend the week in her village, in her family’s empty apartment. Most interesting for me, it was located in a part of Hong Kong I’d never explored before: the “New Territories” region that borders mainland China, which Britain first acquired in 1898.
One hour northeast of downtown, the village of Yeung Uk Tsuen (pronounced just as it looks!) is hardly rural. The urban sprawl of Yuen Long encircles it. Yet the village retains an architectural style and layout I’ve not seen before in HK.
What may be Yeung Uk Tsuen's oldest home, located on its main square.
Doorways with character.
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Beyond the village rooftops, part of the Kowloon Range in the distance.
The pathway into the village.
The village is comprised mostly of three- and four-story homes.
Almost all have rooftop terraces.
Balcony of the building where I stayed was typical.
Bike parked in an alley, unlocked.
Most alleys are about the width of my wingspan.
Yeung Kwai-Siu, the Resident Representative of Yeung Uk Tsuen, kindly showed me inside the local school. If I understood his broken English, his “Yeung” family has lived here for 500 or 600 years. (Or, maybe 50 to 60 years.)
Not everyone was so willing to pose for me. On an ordinary Sunday afternoon, one woman prepared fish, the other hung laundry. When they turned around and saw me shooting, they uttered what I believe was Cantonese for “Buzz off.” (So I did.)
An old well, since paved over, lies at the heart of the village. For festivals, residents gather here to cook and feast. When some proposed to convert the well into a small playground, the elders objected, saying the well was the village’s source of energy.
At night, several homes glow spookily from shrines like this.
Yes, the alley leading to my room was awfully dark …
A door’s gold and burgundy shimmers at night.
Another quiet street.
An empty lot, where cars go to die.
Another funky door.
On the overpass walkway from Yeung Uk Tsuen to Yeun Long, three men take a break from chatting.